OTTAWA – Canada's cybersecurity agency is poised to receive new powers with minimal oversight under a proposed piece of federal legislation, a report released earlier this week is cautioning.

The report—a joint effort between Citizen Lab and the Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic — says that the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) will be able to launch defensive and offensive cyber attacks, with little "meaningful" oversight, if the Liberal’s national security legislation passes as drafted.

Bill C-59, the National Security Act, 2017 spans 150 pages. It creates new policy, amends a number of other pieces of law, and makes changes to the previous Conservative government’s contentious national security legislation Bill C-51.

Among the permitted activities that CSE will be able to conduct under Bill C-59:

  • Disseminating false information;
  • Impersonating members of the press;
  • Leaking foreign documents;
  • Disabling network or account access;
  • Launching denial of service attacks; and
  • Interfering with the electricity grid.

"Basically, we can start hacking into the world," Citizen Lab’s Christopher Parsons told CTV’s Your Morning. "Of course we want to trust the government, but it’s also on the government to demonstrate that it can be trusted with these powers," Parsons said.